Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Singapore
 

Kong defends City Harvest Church transactions

Published on Aug 13, 2014 6:43 PM
 
City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee said on Wednesday that he had nothing to hide about a series of transactions which prosecutors claim were shams made to enable the misuse of church funds. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Singapore - City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee said on Wednesday that he had nothing to hide about a series of transactions which prosecutors claim were shams made to enable the misuse of church funds.

His lawyer Edwin Tong showed him a series of emails and Blackberry messages in which he had given instructions for lawyers and auditors to be consulted about various transactions.

Kong said the correspondence showed he and other defendants had been transparent about their plans and sought to make sure the deals were above board.

Among the auditors consulted was Mr Foong Daw Ching, former managing director of the church's auditing firm Baker Tilly TFW.

Kong said of several meetings that were set up with Mr Foong: "If I had committed fraud, why would I want to see him? I would want to stay away from him."

Kong and five others face various charges for their part in allegedly misusing $50 million of church funds to boost his wife Ho Yeow Sun's music career, and then to cover up the deed.

Part of the money was borrowed to finance Ms Ho's debut American album, which the defence said was part of a church-approved plan to evangelise.

Kong said earlier in the day that he would put the church's interest before his wife's music career. Earlier in the week he had said he replaced noted producers on the album like Grammy-winning artiste Wyclef Jean to keep the album budget reasonable.

He also said that although he would have preferred to keep the church's support of her career discreet, he would have disclosed it in legal documents if required by law.

While he was not asked why he would want to keep the support discreet, another defendant, former church board member John Lam Leng Hung, had said the board knew that for Ms Ho's music career to be successful, "she must be recognised as a real success, meaning it is a success that has to happen without... direct support from the church".

The trial continues.

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